Museums & Galleries
A visit to Athens would not be complete without a call in at its outstanding museums and galleries that showcase the city’s fascinating history and organic alliance with art and archaeology, as well as its diverse contemporary artistic expression.
The National Archaeological Museum ranks among the leading archaeological museums in the world, holding the richest collection of Greek artefacts from Neolithic to Classical times. The construction began in 1866 to a design by Ludwig Lange and was completed in 1889 by Ernst Ziller.
In its 8,000-sqm exhibition space, the museum contains 11,000 items on permanent display, dating from the 7th millennium BC to 5th century BC, classified into 7 collections: Prehistoric (Neolithic, Cycladic and Mycenaean antiquities), Sculptures, Bronze, Egyptian Antiquities, the Stathatou Collection with miniature works of Art, Vases and Miniatures and Cypriot Art.
The “Mask of Agamemnon”, the Santorini frescoes, the bronze Zeus or Poseidon and the “Jockey of Artemision” are among the most popular exhibits. In addition to the impressive permanent collections, the Museum also hosts exhibitions and educational programmes.
Info: A 10-year legal battle with the Getty Museum in Los Angeles over the ownership of an exquisite 4th century BC diadem decorated with gold-leaf flowers, ended with the wreath being returned to the National Archaeological Museum.
28is Oktovriou 44, Athens
Tel: +30 210 900 0901National Archaeological Museum
The Museum was built in 1848, in the style of a Florentine Palace. A 12,000-sqm underground wing was added in the 1990s. With more than 25,000 artefacts in its possession, the museum’s collection of Early Christian, Byzantine and Medieval religious artefacts is unsurpassed in size and scope.
Its exhibits represent 1,700 years of Byzantine Art and Architecture and include thousands of religious artifacts of the Early Christian, Byzantine, Medieval, post-Byzantine and later periods.
While Byzantine culture was almost entirely concerned with religious expression, the diversity of the techniques, subjects and approaches used throughout the Byzantine Empire is extraordinary. Look out for miniature sculptures on themes such as the ‘Descent into Hell’ and a ninth-century relief carving of the ‘Tree of Life’.
Did you know? Byzantine painters used gold to add depth or, in frescoes especially, to emphasise the distance separating the figures in the icons from the material world.
Vasilissis Sofias Ave, 22, Athens
Tel: +30 213 213 9517Byzantine and Christian Museum
A rare museum with a collection of more than 600,000 coins, “treasuries” (closed coin collections), standard weights, metals and precious stones, from the ancient Greek and Roman periods, Byzantium, the Western Middle Ages and Modern History.
It was built between 1878 and 1880 to designs by Ernst Ziller in the mode of the Italian Renaissance. You’ll see Pompeian-style frescoes, floor mosaics depicting Schliemann’s finds at Troy and Mycenae, and excerpts from Greek literary texts. The mansion was used as the residence of archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered Troy. Hence its nickname: Iliou Melathron (Troy Mansion).
The 600,000-strong coin collection is a literal treasury of historical data, tracing the political, commercial, and cultural influences of Athens through the ages.
El. Venizelou Avenue, 12, Athens
Tel: +30 210 364 3774Numismatic Museum
The Museum of artefacts was found during the excavation of the Ancient Agora, the hub of public life in early Athens.
The original building was erected in the 2nd century BC as a gift to Athens from King Attalos II. The Stoa Arcade was rebuilt in the 1950s. In antiquity, it was used as a hall for the Panathenaic procession, the ceremony after the Panathenaic games where citizens, musicians, chariots, infantry, sacrificial animals, women, and winners marched up to the statue of Athena, presenting her with a newly made robe (peplos).
During the excavation of the Agora, a fascinating trove of items was unearthed - coins, pottery and statues - providing telling details of the everyday lives of the ancient Athenians. The Stoa of Attalos was the first shopping arcade in Athens, where merchants of all trades would set up shop.
Adrianou Street, 24, AthensTel: +30 21 0321 0185
The Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments “Fivos Anoyanakis” - Centre for Ethnomusicology is a typical example of architecture during Ottonian times and one of Plaka’s oldest surviving mansions, built around 1840.
The museum displays 1,200 Greek popular musical instruments dating from the 18th century to the present day. In 1978, Fivos Anoyanakis, a musicologist and pioneering researcher of Greek traditional music, donated his unique collection of 1,200 musical instruments and sound emitting objects, his library and his treasured archive to the Greek State. The museum was founded in 1991 and is housed in the former residence of the military officer and scholar Georgios Lassanis. It was built using surplus material from the construction of the palace of King Otto.
Though the museum is small in size, the exhibits are arranged in a manner that will draw your attention, grouped according to how the sound is initially produced as well as the body of the instrument (membranophones, aerophones, chordophones etc.). Video projections and audio samples (available in every display) highlight the intangible aspect of the instruments to every visitor.
Diogenous Street, 1, Athina
Tel: +30 210 325 0198Museum of Modern Greek Culture
Housed in a mansion of the 19th century, the museum occupies building No 5 (1859) and building No. 7 (1833), which was used as King’s Otto and Queen’s Amalia first residence in Athens (1836-1842). Visit to see furniture, paintings and engravings about the Ηistory of Athens, from the early 18th century to the 20th century. There’s plenty of royal memorabilia, right down to the cooking utensils used by Othon and Amalia. One suite recreates Amalia’s parlour, including personal items such as her piano. Don’t miss the collection of etchings and engravings that can be viewed as a timeline of the city’s evolution since the 18th century.
Paparigopoulou Street, 5-7, Klafthmonos Square, Athens
Tel: +30 210 324 6164Athens City Museum: Home
Permanently housed in the Old Parliament Building on Stadiou Street, the museum narrates the story of Modern Greece: From the period of Ottoman and Latin rule, to the Greek War of Independence (1821) and the creation of an independent State.
A vivid presentation of modern Greek History events are told through a series of works of art and objects, with a focus on the war of independence and the founding of the Modern Greek State.
The Museum was built in 1858-1875 and was designed by the architect François Boulanger after the first Parliament building was razed by fire. Prior to that, it served as the Old Parliament from 1875 until 1935.
A must-see is Ektor Doukas’s oil painting of ‘The Women of Pindus’ delivering supplies to Greek troops at the start of the Second World War, which immortalises the active role of Greek women in the country’s history. An entire section of the museum is dedicated to the support the Greek revolution received from philhellenes like Lord Byron.
Old Parliament Building, Stadiou Street, 13, Athens
Tel: +30 210 323 7617National Historical Museum
From dinosaurs to fossils, this neoclassical mansion, built in 1875, is Greece’s largest Museum of Natural History and a fantastic family-friendly attraction. Converted into a research centre in 1964, both the building and collection have undergone a radical transformation since its early days. Young visitors will love the T-rex replica. Sea life enthusiasts should check out the marine biology section, where riches of Greek and international waters surface. The tranquil garden cafe is an attraction in itself.
London’s Museum of Natural History played a large role in the creation of the Gaia exhibition, which tells the story of our planet and how it works.
Levidou Street, 13, Kifisia
Tel: +30 210 801 5870Goulandris Natural History Museum
The Museum is considered one of the most significant Museums of its kind in the world, holding a collection of more than 14,000 ancient inscriptions in Greek, Latin and Hebrew. Greek inscriptions reveal the minutiae of everyday life in ancient Athens.
The main building dates from 1885, with an extension added in the 1950s.
It occupies the southern wing of the National Archaeological Museum building but is accessed through a separate entrance on 1 Tositsa Street.
At first glance, the Epigraphic Museum might seem too specialised, but there’s a lot in its 14,000-strong collection to fascinate the lay visitor. Such as a complete cost-account of the Parthenon’s construction and a prototype voting machine used in the election of state officers in Athens, circa 162 BC.
Tositsa, 1, Exarchia, AthensTel: +30 210 8232950
The Museum was founded in 1977 and is dedicated to the History and tradition of Greek Jews. Its collection comprises more than 7,000 exhibits tracing 2,300 years of Jewish history in Greece: Αmong them authentic photographs, documents and archives, as well as the exhibits immortalising the Greek Jews who fought in the anti-Nazi resistance movement during World War II.
Ιn 1998, a ground-up renovation was completed. It retained only the façade of the 19th century residence to create a four-storey museum around an octagonal shaft.
The Museum’s first home was in a small room next to the Athens synagogue. Strong visitor interest and support from various donors and the government enabled its collection to grow and in 1997, the doors of its current location opened.
Nikis Street, 39, Athens
Tel: +30 210 322 5582Jewish Museum of Greece
From the Stone Age to the Classical Period to World War II, the museum offers a timeline of Greek History through military conflicts. On display there are military paraphernalia, models of warships and aircraft, flags and maps. Various types of artillery guns and real size models of war aircrafts, some of which you can enter, are on display in the yard.
The Greeks' heroic resistance mounted against the Nazis is given special emphasis. A wall chart titled “This is how the conquerors passed through Greece” is a stark reminder of the price Greece paid for its defiance: 8% of its population was killed. A must-see is the lightboard map that shows how news of the Trojan War was transmitted to Mycenae by fire-beacon. Although planned and built in 1970 by the junta as a ‘monument to Greek valour and military prowess’, the War Museum didn’t open until after the dictatorship’s collapse in 1974.
Rizari Street, 2, Athens
Tel: +30 210 725 2974 - 5-6Introduction | Athens War Museum
The Museum was built in the early 1900’s in the art deco style. The building used to be the private residence of Aspasia Manos, wife of King Alexander, and later it was occupied by the Athens News Agency. Visit to view replicas and reconstructions of the pioneering technology invented by the ancient Greeks, from navigation, medicine, and telecoms to agriculture, textiles, and sports. Don’t leave without seeing the theatre sets that rival contemporary constructions including rotating scenes, moving stages, and a mechanism that literally delivered the Deus ex machina to the stage.
Pindarou Street, 6, Athens
Tel: +30 693 183 1530Museum of the Ancient Greek Technology
The Museum is a historical journey through Greek clothing and costume from ancient to modern times. This 1920s construction shows the first signs of the transition from neoclassicism to modernism. The building was purchased in 1935 for the Greek Women’s Lyceum which, during the Nazi occupation, hosted soup kitchens for children and sheltered some 150 people left homeless by the 1944 bombing of Piraeus.
This rich collection offers an intriguing perspective on Greek History, highlighting social and regional differences through clothing and headdresses. Dating back to Ancient Greece, what people wore and even how they styled their hair, communicated vital information about their social and personal status and where they came from.
The iconic ‘Amalia’ costume, on display, does not actually exist in traditional dress, but was created by Greece’s first queen in an effort to appear more ‘down with the people’.
Dimokritou Street, 7, Athens
Tel: +30 210 362 9513Museum of the History of the Greek Costume
Built on the spot of an ancient theatre, this often overlooked, but must-see Museum outlines the Ηistory of Piraeus from the Mycenaean to the Roman times—that’s a period of 2,200 years, during which the port city thrived as a shipyard and a major military and commercial centre.
The collection was assembled in 1935 and moved to this modest building in 1966.
The museum's core exhibits were unearthed in Piraeus and along the Attica coastline. Remnants of the 2nd century BC Theatre of Zea can be seen in the Museum gardens.
The 4th century BC bronze statues, unearthed during works on Piraeus’ sewage system in 1959, are especially stunning. The statues were buried in a cemetery nearby for safekeeping against conquerors and Christians. Don’t miss the statue of Artemis by Praxiteles, one of the great sculptors of antiquity.
Charilaou Trikoupi Street, 31, PiraeusTel: +30 210 452 1598
The Museum was founded in 1949 and housed in its current location since 1969.
The first attempt to establish a museum dedicated to Greece’s maritime history was in 1867 by Captain Gerasimos Zohios. But the project was not realised until influential Piraeus residents banded together with naval officers and lobbied the Greek government for an official archive of the country’s maritime achievements 82 years later. This unsung little museum narrates the Greece’s mighty naval past from antiquity to the 20th century through maps, ship models, nautical instruments, weapons, furniture, wonderful paintings, and everything naval.
A whole section is devoted to the private collection of Aristotle Onassis, a trove of sea-related treasures that once adorned his extravagant yacht, the Christina.
Akti Themistokleous, Freattis, 185 37 Piraeus
Tel.: 210 451 6264 - 210 451 6822 - 210 428 6959 - 210 428 6430http://www.hmmuseum.gr/en-us/
This non-profit foundation discovers, collects, preserves and studies all materials associated with the art of functional Greek pottery from the 16th to 20th centuries.
The building is a handsome neoclassical structure that was erected as a private residence in 1875. In 1999, the centre for the study of traditional Greek pottery was established in the building.
Since the earliest of times, earthenware vessels have been entwined with many sacred Greek customs and ceremonies surrounding life and death. Look out for the large black and white photograph of a very odd Greek ritual: Every Easter Saturday on Corfu, locals hurl giant clay pots from their windows and balconies as the church bells toll.
Melidoni Street, 4-6, Keramikos, AthensTel: +30 210 331 8491
A rich collection of economic, cultural and political archives of Greece from 1941 to the 1960s is displayed in the building of the National Bank of Greece. Erected during 1923-1926 by architect Nikolaos Zoumboulidis and engineer Aristidis Balanos, it was the first construction in Greece built for archival purposes. The National Bank of Greece was also the country’s first credit institution, founded in 1841. The Historical Archives document Greece’s financial history dating from 1841 to 1966 and are accessible to all visitors and scholars.
The NBG/HA date back to the birth of the modern Greek state and are one of the richest sources of information on the country’s economy, social and political life over the past 180 years. Since 2002, there have been various temporary and permanent public collections exhibited including documents, currency, photographs, stamps, calendars, even furniture.
Megaro Diomidi, Tritis Septemvriou Street, 146, Athens
Tel.: +30 210 880 7804NBG Historical Archive
A naval hero that became a museum, the Battleship G. Averoff was built during 1908-1911 in Livorno, Italy, and went on to become the crown jewel of the Greek Navy as an undefeated symbol of a nation, spanning 40 years of service to Greece. The Averof was purchased from the Italian Navy for 24 million drachmas (around €70,000 in today’s worth). One third of the sum was donated by the estate of the Greek tycoon, Georgios Averoff. The battleship was launched on March 12, 1910 and decommissioned in 1952.
It’s hard to understate the value of the Averoff in Greece’s naval History. It led Greece into victory during the Balkan Wars of 1910-1912, and assisted in the transport of refugees from Asia Minor in 1922. Today, it operates as a museum, thus fulfilling its benefactor’s wishes.
Marina Flisvos, Trokadero, Paleo Faliro 175 10
Tel: +30 210 988 8211Floating Naval Museum - Battleship Averof
This secret Museum in Plaka, built in 1884, was once a private residence and now contains a private collection of Greek Art. The works date all the way from prehistoric to post-Byzantine times. The collectors’ preference for clay, marble, and stone vessels lends an interesting depth to the core collection. The new wing of the museum (added in 2010) incorporates the ruins of a medieval residence that was part of the outer fortification walls of the Acropolis.
Theorias Street, 12, 105 55 Plaka, Athens
Tel: + 30 210 324 4447The Museum - Paul & Alexandra Canellopoulos Foundation
In this small, purpose-built museum, opened in November 2015 on the grounds of Plato’s Academy (now an archaeological park), philosophy and digital technology meet in a playful exploration of Plato’s school of thought. Travel back in time and muse on the enduring philosophical questions posed by Plato on the very spot where he walked and taught 2,500 years ago. Interactive installations and video projections help you to navigate a profound world of ideas that has influenced modern thought and inspired humanity for two millennia. The highlight is a digital replica of the cave, which Plato described in The Republic, likening uneducated minds to prisoners chained inside a cave, unable to think for themselves or discover their own path to enlightenment.
Alkmeonos Street, 1, Athens
Tel: +30 210 514 2138Plato Academy Digital Museum
Ai Stratis is a small Aegean island, which served as a place of incarceration for political exiles several times in modern Greek history: in the 1930s, after the Civil War in the late 1940s, and during the 1967-1974 dictatorship.
Ag. Asomaton Street, 31, Athens
Tel: +30 210 321 3488
Eratosthenous Street, 13, Athens
Tel: +30 210 725 2895Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation
This landmark Museum is housed in one of Athens’ most beautiful neoclassical-style buildings, near the National Garden and Syntagma Square. It hosts an expansive exhibition on Greek Culture from prehistory to the 20th century with works of art, objects, furniture and traditional dress. The original building dates from 1860; with additional wings added in 1930 and the 1990s. Originally the Harokopos family residence, it was bought and renovated by Emmanuel Benakis in 1910. After his death in 1929, the building was turned into a museum by his son, Antonis Benakis. Two 18th-century parlours from northern Greece, complete with carved wood panelling and gold trim ceilings, are included in the list of must-see displays.
Koumbari Street 1 & Vas. Sofias Ave., Athens
Tel: +30 210 367 1000MUSEUM OF GREEK CULTURE - BenakiMuseum
Neofytou Douka Street, 4, Athens
Tel: +30 210 722 8321Museum of Cycladic Art
Agion Asomaton Square, 5, AthensTel: +30 210 321 5717
Pireos Street, 138, Athens
Tel: +30 210 345 3111Benaki Museum - Home
This museum will give you a chance to see the great Greek artist Tsarouchis’ townhouse and artwork. Built in 1965, this charming, suburban dwelling is where Yannis Tsarouchis—one of Greece’s most emblematic and influential modern artists—lived and worked from 1966 until his death in 1989. Known equally for his paintings and theatrical set designs, Yannis Tsarouchis was one of the most prolific 20th century Greek artists. Well worth seeing are the portraits he made of his close friends and fellow creatives.
Ploutarchou, 28, Maroussi
Tel: +30 210 806 2636Yannis Tsarouchis Foundation
Kriezotou Street., 3, Athens
Tel: +30 210 361 5702The Benaki Museum: Ghika Gallery
Vasilissis Sofias avenue & Merlin street, 1, Athens
Tel: +30 210 361 1206B&M Theocharakis Foundation
Aggeliki Chatzimichali, 6, Athens+30 210 324 3987
G. Gounaropoulos (1889-1977) was one of the forerunners of modern art in Greece. In his oneiric and ethereal paintings, Gounaropoulos absorbed the aesthetics of cubism and surrealism, as he experienced them in Paris from 1919 – 1930, alongside elements from his Greek cultural heritage.
Gounaropoulou, 6, Athens
+30 210 777 7601The G. Gounaropoulos Museum
Parodos Diadochou Constantinou, 1, Peania
+30 210 664 2520Vorres Museum
Antonis Benakis’ personal collection of Islamic Art is one of the finest in the world, spanning a wide range of geography and years. You’ll find exhibits from India, the Middle East, Asia Minor, North Africa, and Spain, while the historically multicultural neighbourhood of Psiri is the ideal location for the Benaki Museum’s impressive haul, amassed by Antonis Benakis in the early 20th century while living in Egypt.
Agion Asomaton 22 & Dipilou 12, Athens
Tel: +30 210 367 1000The Benaki Museum of Islamic Art
Anakreontos, 38, Athens
Tel: +30 210 777 3946The Yannis Pappas Studio
This museum offers an engrossing cross-section vantage of modern Greek Art—paintings and sculptures—from the interwar period. The early 1830s building was designed by the Danish architect Christian Hansen, as one of the city’s first neoclassical buildings. Originally, it was the silk factory that gave the district of Metaxourgio its name (metaxi is Greek for ‘silk’).
Mylerou 32 & Leonidou, AthensTel: +30 210 323 1841
Monis Asteriou, 3-7, Athens
+30 210 323 4678The Frissiras Museum
Dionysiou Areopagitou & Makri 2 , Athens
+30 210 924 5958
Posidonos 14 & Tritonos 1, Palio Faliro
+30 212 687 5280The Benaki Toy Museum
Ioulianou, 33, Athens
Tel: +30 210 881 6187The Hellenic Motor Museum
Pireos street, 100, Athens
+30 213 010 9325The Industrial Gas Museum
This novel cultural attraction - with the slogan “The Museum that Clicks with You” - is a shrine to old-school digital technology. You’ll find it off the beaten track in the residential suburb of Moschato where it makes for an interesting diversion. Especially when one considers that IT has traveled so far, it already needs a museum.
Petrou Spiropoulou 2 & Thessalonikis, Moschato
Tel: +30 210 300 7010The Hellenic IT Museum
Voriou Ipirou, 27, Marousi
+30 210 612 7245Spathario Museum of Shadow Theatre
Vasileos Georgiou B Avenue, 19 , AthensTel.: +30 210 331 2995
Kodrou, 9, Athens
Tel.: +30 210 331 2621The Museum of Greek Children's Art
A sparkling collection of bold designs by Greek jeweller Ilias Lalaounis, inspired by history and nature. The showcase features more than 3,000 pieces of jewellery and miniature sculpture created by Ilias Lalaounis between 1940 and 1992, housed in this master jeweller’s former residence.
Kallisperi 12 & Karyatidon, AthensTel.: +30 210 922 1044
This secret and unusual museum occupies the former home of Angelos and Leto Katakouzenos, an Athenian couple who were part of the intellectual elite of the so-called “1930s generation”. A visit here offers a vivid immersion into one of the most significant cultural salons of 20th century Athens. The artistic power couple inhabited this residence overlooking the National Garden from 1960 to 1997.The lively debates and creative experimentation they cultivated there had a lasting influence on cultural and political life in Greece.
Amalias avenue, 4, Athens
Tel.: +30 210 322 2144The Kantakouzenos House Museum
Herakleidon 16 & Apostolou Pavlou 35, Athens
Tel.: +30 210 346 1981The Herakleidon Museum
University of Athens, Zografou
Tel.: +30 210 727 4112Museum of Mineralogy and Petrology